How did immigration change the U.S. between 1820 and 1860?

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Immigration during this period made the United States considerably more diverse. Prior to the early 19th century, the vast majority of immigrants had come from Great Britain. Although British immigrants continued to pour into the United States from 1820 to 1860, they were now joined by increasing numbers from elsewhere...

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Immigration during this period made the United States considerably more diverse. Prior to the early 19th century, the vast majority of immigrants had come from Great Britain. Although British immigrants continued to pour into the United States from 1820 to 1860, they were now joined by increasing numbers from elsewhere in Europe, most notably from the Netherlands, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries.

Most of these immigrants were white and Protestant, and therefore they were easily assimilable into American society. However, among the newcomers was a large influx of mainly Irish Catholics, driven out of their homeland by the potato famine that decimated the country in the mid- to late-1840s. For the most part, Irish immigrants did not receive anything like the same welcome as their German, Dutch, or Scandinavian counterparts.

This led to the formation of new political party called the Know Nothings, who were vehemently anti-Catholic and hostile to immigration in general. Before 1820, immigration had seldom been much of an issue in national politics, but as more and more immigrants made their way to the United States, all that changed, and the seeds of a nativist tradition in American politics were sewn.

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Immigration changed the United States between 1820 and 1860 in many ways. During this time period many immigrants came to the United States from north and west Europe.  Some people called this the first wave of immigration.  As a result of this immigration, cities began to grow.  Many immigrants settled in the cities which eventually led to the development of ethnic neighborhoods. Also, because so many people came to the cities, industries grew. There was a large availability of workers, usually very low paid, which enabled factories to grow and develop. This began to change the nature of the workplace. Instead of working at home or in very small environments, people were in workplaces of hundreds or thousands of workers. The workplace became much less friendly and personal to the workers. Some immigrants who came made significant contributions to the United States. Some inventions were made by people who came to the United States in this first wave of immigration. As immigration grew, more problems developed in the cities. City governments couldn't keep up with the increasing population which led to disease, lack of good housing, pollution, and crime. Because the city governments weren't able to deal with the increasing needs of the people, political machines formed to help those in need. Of course, this was done in return for votes. This led to a lot of corruption in city politics. Finally, anti-immigrant feelings began to grow as the number of immigrants increased. People wanted laws to restrict immigration, and groups formed to work for this. Immigration had many effects on the United States. Some were positive and some weren't as good.

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